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Using SMART curriculum planning to help with learner success, retention and achievement

SMART curriculum planning will help you to ensure your learners achieve their best and that no student is left behind!

Following nested suite programmes, like those from NCFE, can help with success, retention and achievement data by supporting learners at risk with appropriate drop off points in the year, and providing progression options for those who are excelling.

Nested suite programmes can be taken as part of Study Programmes and allow you to enter learners on a level of study that is best suited to them, with the flexibility to move them on to a different qualification within the same suite, based on their performance, ensuring better outcomes!

Take a look at our nested suite quick guide for an overview of nested suites and the benefits.

How does this support learner outcomes?

You’re able to provide flexibility for you and your learners, so they have the required support to succeed, whatever their circumstances!

For a one year Study Programme at level 2, you may wish to consider a nested suite of qualifications that includes a certificate, extended certificate and diploma. These qualifications of various sizes offer drop off, drop down or progress up points during the year for learners who may be underperforming or for those who are excelling beyond expectations.

Your full cohort of learners should be registered on the full level 2 diploma up until the 6 / 7 week census point to ensure you can draw down the full funding for each learner, as funding is based on planned delivery hours. However, after the census point – typically October half term – if you have learners at risk due to poor performance, attendance, behaviour, or a change in personal circumstance, you may choose to drop them down to the certificate and monitor their performance.

If performance doesn’t improve, you could consider completing them on the certificate programme by December or January and then referring them to your Internal Advice and Guidance (IAG) team for support. On the other hand, if their progress does improve, you could move them back up to an extended certificate or diploma, so they can achieve a higher qualification.

For a two year Study Programme at level 3, you can follow the same principles as above, but with different levels of qualifications, plus an effective assessment for all learners completing the first year, to identify which level of qualification is best for them when they return for their second year.

Planning various drop off points within each year of your curriculum allows you to follow the above process for learners throughout the academic cycle to improve success rates, retention and achievement.

What does this mean for your learners?

It’s essential that learners at risk have effective and timely interventions to support them to improve their performance and progress back up to a full Study Programme.

Managing your Study Programmes effectively ensures you have strong systems and controls, which includes options for learners to complete smaller size qualifications if needed, rather than withdrawing learners from their studies if they’re under achieving. This helps to ensure no learner is left behind and that everyone has the opportunities to achieve.

It’s also equally important that those excelling have the opportunity to progress up, so they can complete a higher level qualification and improve their future prospects.

Helping you with external inspections

Whilst nested suites offer flexibility, external inspection authorities will be interested in the implementation and impact of the support that has been put in place for learners managed in this way, to improve their performance and support progression back on to full Study Programmes.

This is why effective planning of Study Programme delivery is key, as well as an understanding of the rules for mandatory and optional units for each sized qualification.

For example, you may wish to deliver mandatory units at the start of the Study Programme, so if a learner does drop down to a smaller qualification, they meet the rules of combination for that qualification, which will likely include mandatory units.

Supporting January intake

Similarly, planning the delivery of the units is key to support January starters who’ve been through IAG and may wish to join your Study Programme on a lower size qualification. See our Preparing for January Intake blog for more information.

If you’d like to find out more about NCFE’s nested suites, or how we can support you with your curriculum planning, visit our webpages.

*the levels of qualification referenced in this blog are not inclusive of all nested suites. See our quick guide for the full range of nested suites and levels of qualifications within each suite.


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